Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Trooper, ‘good Samaritan’ honored for pulling trucker from flaming wreck

Our abbreviated deadline for the holiday weekend left us unable to cover this as it was happening, but if you haven’t seen the video of a Minnesota good Samaritan being recognized for helping a state trooper pull a trucker from a fiery crash, well, take 15 minutes out of your day and check it out.

Seriously, gang. This is an incredible story of heroism, on the parts of both the state trooper, and Paul Langseth, who owns a tree-trimming and nursery business in Worthington, Minn. The story of the patrol’s efforts to locate Langseth in the days after the crash is almost but not quite as exciting as the actual rescue itself. Take a look.

The crash happened at 1:45 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, on Highway 60, near the city of Windom, Minn.

Trooper Ron Richards was directing traffic for a funeral procession traveling on the highway, when he said he observed the tanker truck that was “not going to stop in time.”

The tanker truck driven by Michael Junker collided with another semi, causing Junker’s cab to ignite.

“Out of this comes a semi sliding, on fire from a fuel tank that’s ruptured, and dragging on the ground with a man half coming out of it screaming. That’s the scene that Paul got to roll into.”

Langseth was stopped at the intersection waiting for the funeral to pass when the crash happened.

Richards’ dramatic retelling of the crash is worth listening to. He also praised Langseth’s efforts, saying “there is no way I could’ve got (the driver) out alone.”

For his part, Langseth said both he and the biblical Samaritan were just doing “what needed to be done at the time.”

“That’s part of Minnesota,” he said. “I like to think any of my brothers would’ve done exactly the same. It’s just the way we were raised.”

Junker, the driver, was released from the hospital but was unable to attend the press conference last Friday. He did provide a written statement that was read by the State Patrol, thanking both Richards and Langseth for their heroic actions.

“Without their help, I sincerely believe I would not be here today,” he said.

At the end of the press conference, the troopers invited Langseth and his wife to an awards dinner next spring for citizens who act courageously and offer aid to the patrol. I wouldn’t be surprised if he also gets an invitation to MATS for Goodyear’s Highway Hero contest next year, too.